The new “Stop Wearing Black” campaign by the International Hyperhidrosis Society is really catchy and so very true. How do we enable patients embarassed by excessive sweating to continue to live life as normal, when they are constantly physically reminded of their condition, especially during the summer? The first step towards in treating any problem is know, first, that there are really effective treatment options. Many people, doctors included, lack awareness that hyperhidrosis is a distinct medical condition, fortunately with many great treatments to boot.
Sweating is the body’s way of adapting to an increase in temperature, thus cooling off. We don’t know why some people have an over-active sweat system (estimated at 3% of the population), but, in a nutshell, this is one of those cases where too much of a good thing, isn’t good anymore. In 90% of the cases, the diagnosis of Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis is made (in the remaining 10%, sweating is considered a secondary problem due to another medical condition such as thyroid disease, for example). Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis is a real condition, not a “cosmetic” one, with its own insurance code.
The following are the diagnostic criteria for Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis. If you meet 2 or more criteria, then you probably have Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis:
- Sweating occurs on both sides of the body almost equally
- Excess sweat impairs your daily life
- You experience at least one episode of excessive sweating weekly
- The problem started before you turned 25
- Some of your family members suffer from excessive sweating
- You stop sweating when you’re asleep
For more on treatments, see my next entry!